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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zhu Zhu Pet manufacturer
unveils cost cutter model

ANDERSON, Ind -- The Zhu Zhu Pet, this year's most popular toy, is quickly reaching Tickle Me Elmo heights. But in a desperate attempt to keep up with demand, some children will receive a reduced priced, "Low Budget" version this Christmas.

To brace for the holiday shopping season, St. Louis-based Cepia opened a manufacturing facility in Anderson three months ago. Inventories began to drop rapidly as the toy became a sought-after Christmas item, and the Anderson location began struggling to meet production deadlines.

"We hoped opening the new facility would be enough," Cepia National Production Manager Hal 'Bigfoot' Henderson said. "We just can't seem to hire enough people to keep up with the demand. Fortunately, we prepared for this. We recently decided it was time to launch what R&D refers to as Plan L."

“Plan L” hamsters will be packaged and sold as a variant of the original
Zhu Zhu Pet. A Cepia representative said the company will denote packages as 'L,' meaning “Low Budget” hamster, or 'R,' meaning robotic hamster.

"We changed the packaging of all our Zhu Zhu hamsters to include a breathing hole," spokesman Nick Carmichael said. "This gives the 'Low Budget' product the ability to stay fresh while it sits on a store shelf."

Unfortunately, the added freshness hole has not been enough to sustain about 70 percent of Zhu Zhu 'L' models on the store shelves or inside wrapping paper under Christmas trees so far this holiday season. Carmichael acknowledged nutrients and water probably should have been included in the packaging, as well.

"We fully guarantee all Cepia products and will offer a full refund if an 'L' version is faulty or expired,"
he says.

As for the other 30 percent, that survive and make it to a shopper's home, consumers are complaining about the erratic behavior of “Low Budget” models.

"Zhu Zhu 'L' requires a little more care and clean-up compared to Zhu Zhu 'R" says
Carmichael. "For example, we recommend keeping Zhu Zhu 'L' models away from dogs and cats."

In addition to keeping them away from pets, Cepia strongly recommends that any owner purchasing Zhu Zhu 'L' also purchase some sort of breathable storage container, or cage to house the toy when not in use.

Cepia's new production strategy has worked up some protest from several animal rights groups. Cepia assures the public this strategy is only temporary and once production of Zhu Zhu 'R' catches up with the extremely high holiday demand, the Zhu Zhu 'L' models will be discontinued and destroyed.

For more information, visit Cepia's informational site at
http://tinyurl.com/robothamster

Story by Dudley Dawson


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